Rising political polarization can have serious ramifications for businesses. Companies that speak out on controversial issues can face decreased customer loyalty from those with opposing beliefs, increased internal conflict between employees, or reduced sales from boycotts. Furthermore, taking a public stance can often exacerbate social tensions. For example, after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Delta Air Lines was reported to have eliminated an NRA member discount. Despite affecting very few people, the move further heightened tensions around gun control and prompted state lawmakers to threaten the airline’s fuel tax exemptions.
Even so, inaction is not necessarily the better strategy. Polarization can also affect businesses that do not speak out, through decreased customer loyalty, market unpredictability caused by public misinformation, or foregone opportunities due to fear of a backlash….